Observing – Undergrad Beginning & Advanced Critiques

I’ve been observing the tail end of Beginning Printmaking and the front end of Advanced Printmaking as taught by Syd Webb. I really like how she has modified the critique structure to get students accustomed to critical dialogue.

For Beginning Printmaking:

The first critique of the semester, Syd wrote out cards in four categories: 1. Describe, 2. Analyze, 3. Interpret, 4. Evaluate.

Examples of questions:

  1. What do you see in the work?
  2. How is color used?
  3. What does the image mean to you?
  4. What is successful about the work?

There were several questions per category. The question cards were placed in a stack in the center of the room.

We had a big class, so four people at a time posted their work on the wall. The artist can choose to introduce their work. Then four of their peers choose one card from each of the categories to answer. The artist responds, then we move to the next piece.

Important note: Syd used the same cards the second critique of the semester, and we noticed that the students were a little bored of that style the second time around. It may be important to modify or step up the “game” the next time around.


For Advanced Printmaking:

This is a small class, only 6 people, but the critique lasted the full two hours. Syd kept the four categories but instead had each student write about 3 of their peer’s work in paragraph form addressing the four categories above (1. Describe, 2. Analyze, 3. Interpret, 4. Evaluate) in a freeform way. She designed the worksheet so that suggested questions were listed at the top. The bottom half had three lined spaces to write a paragraph for each artist.

The students laid all their work on the table. For about 30 minutes the students wrote their thoughts down. Then we gathered together around the table. We went through each artists’ work one by one and the three students shared their thoughts. All in all the discussion flowed pretty organically and each student seemed satisfied with the feedback given. I believe this critique style could be appropriate for students that need a little time to reflect before sharing. This technique is perfect for small intimate classes and intermediate students.


If you have any further questions about these methods feel free to reach out!


Christine Adame


About utagtateaching

This blog is dedicated to providing resources to the Graduate Teaching Assistants in the UTA MFA program pertaining to teaching strategies, methods, and materials. We aim to start a public discussion that serves to enhance the classroom experience for both teacher and student.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Christine! I love the card idea to introduce the format to students,


  2. I think this is a really great way make sure the student knows that they have the responsibility to contribute to the conversation, but gives them a platform to start from.


  3. Billi

    Great idea for getting critique sea legs. Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: